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Posted by on Sep 5, 2008 in Ethics, Health care, Infectious diseases

Most US Parents Remain Sane, Vaccinate Children

Most US Parents Remain Sane, Vaccinate Children


The overwhelming majority of American toddlers (age, 19-35 months) received at least 1 recommended vaccine last year, according to data from the National Immunization Survey (NIS), and coverage for at least 1 dose of varicella reached 90% for the first time. Detailed data from the survey were reported in this week’s MMWR.

The coverage rate in 2007 for the recommended 4:3:1:3:3:1 series* of vaccinations was 77.4%, which was comparable to rates of previous years. However, the NIS report noted “substantial variability” of coverage among states (Maryland, 91.3%; Nevada, 63.1%) and urban areas (Philadelphia, 82.2%; San Bernardino, 69.6%). Nevertheless, very few children in the examined age group (0.6%) received no vaccinations whatsoever.

Coverage rates for the 4:3:1:3:3:1 series were not significantly different among racial or ethnic groups after adjusting for poverty status, but certain vaccines (ie, 4th dose of DTaP and 4th dose of PCV7) were less likely to be received by children living at or below the poverty level, according to the report. The ethnic group composed of American Indians and Alaska Natives had the highest coverage rates for the vaccination series and specifically for MMR (96.2%), HepB (96.7%), and varicella (94.9%). 

Despite the record number of measles cases reported this year in the United States, the percentage of toddlers who received at least 1 dose of MMR vaccine has remained stable since 2004 (Table). Still nearly 8% of American toddlers did not receive vaccination for the disease in 2007, and small geographic clusters of unimmunized children appear to account for this year’s record number of cases of the highly contagious disease. (For those parents who remain wary of MMR vaccination owing to unsubstantiated fears of autism, yet another study published in this week’s PLoS One dispels the connection. Orac provides the necessary background and details, sparing others the trouble of posting on the subject. Hosanna.)


≥1 MMR Dose, %











Data for the NIS were collected by means of telephone survey for more than 17,000 children (household response rate, 64.9%). The report acknowledges a possible underestimate of vaccine coverage owing to the exclusive use of provider-verified histories. In addition, clusters of unimmunized children were not likely to be detected, given the survey methods.

* Vaccine doses: 4 DTP/DTaP/DT, 3 polio, 1 MMR, 3 Hib, 3 Hep B, and 1 varicella.

Photo of toddler receiving pneumococcal vaccine from the CDC.

bmartin (1127 Posts)

A native East Tennessean, Barbara Martin is a formerly practicing, board-certified neurologist who received her BS (psychology, summa cum laude) and MD from Duke University before completing her postgraduate training (internship, residency, fellowship) at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She has worked in academia, private practice, medical publishing, drug market research, and continuing medical education (CME). For the last 3 years, she has worked in a freelance capacity as a medical writer, analyst, and consultant. Follow Dr. Barbara Martin on and Twitter.